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Last-gasp Napoli keep title ambitions alive

  • Published at 05:25 am April 9th, 2018
Last-gasp Napoli keep title ambitions alive
Last-gasp goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Amadou Diawara kept Napoli's Serie A title ambitions alive as a dramatic 2-1 win over Chievo on Sunday maintained the pressure on reigning champions Juventus. Maurizio Sarri's title-chasers looked destined to remain seven points behind Juventus as they trailed until the 89th minute at their San Paolo stadium. Polish striker Mariusz Stepinski's goal on 73 minutes had put the relegation battlers from Verona ahead, with Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino making a string of saves including from a Dries Mertens penalty. But Milik headed in the equaliser with one minute of normal time to go with Guinean midfielder Diawara grabbing the winner deep into injury time. "We won a game that we deserved to win," said Sarri. "It had seemed cursed, as we had 31 shots on goal, missed a penalty, hit the woodwork. It was one of those classic games where the team does everything right and the ball won't go in. "But they kept pushing and the logical conclusion was to win the match." Juventus' 4-2 win over Benevento on Saturday had opened up a seven-point advantage as the Turin giants chase a seventh straight title. But the gap is now back to four points with just seven games remaining as Napoli continue to push for a first Scudetto since 1990. Despite dominating Napoli had little to show for their efforts, with Stepinski breaking through on Chievo's first real chance after sloppy defending by the hosts. A Lorenzo Tonelli header rattled the crossbar minutes later, with Sorrentino saving a curling Insigne goal-bound shot and Mertens and Piotr Zielinski also hitting wide. But in the final minute with the whistles of the home crowd growing louder, Insigne crossed for Milik and Diawara grabbed his first Serie A goal ot ensure Napoli keep the pressure on Juventus, with the two sides still to go head-to-head in Turin on April 22. "I have to thank the fans, because without them, we would not have won the match," said Sarri. "When we got the equaliser, the Stadio San Paolo turned into a cauldron and we rode that wave." Earlier, Adem Ljajic scored the only goal for Torino to ensure former club Inter Milan missed the chance to move third. Inter could have overtaken Roma after the capital club lost 2-0 at home against Fiorentina on Saturday. But Luciano Spalletti's side dropped out of the Champions League places with Lazio moving up from fifth to third after a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Udinese. "There are moments when it doesn't go your way, no matter how you try," said Inter coach Spalletti. Kevin Lasagna had put Udinese in front against Lazio when he headed in after 13 minutes, but Serie A top-scorer Ciro Immobile equalised on 26 minutes with Luis Alberto grabbing the winner nine minutes later. "The important thing is we kept out heads and turned it around," said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi. Lazio travel to Salzburg for the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final on Thursday, before taking on city rivals Roma. Pushing for Europa League football next season, Torino are seven points off the sixth position held by AC Milan who drew 1-1 with Sassuolo. Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved from Antonio Candreva and Inter captain Mauro Icardi, with Inter also hitting the woodwork twice before falling to a fourth defeat this season. AC Milan missed the chance to close the gap on the top four, settling for a point after Nikola Kalinic's equaliser four minutes from time cancelled out Matteo Politano's opener for the visitors at the San Siro. RESULTS: Crotone 1 (Nwankwo 25) Bologna 0 Napoli 2 (Milik 89, Diawara 90+3) Chievo 1 (Stepinski 73) Torino 1 (Ljajic 36) Inter Milan 0 Verona 1 (Romulo 36-pen) Cagliari 0 Udinese 1 (Lasagna 13) Lazio 2 (Immobile 26, Alberto 37) AC Milan 1 (Kalinic 86) Sassuolo 1 (Politano 75) Serie A table after Sunday's matches (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Juventus     31 26  3  2 74 18 81 Napoli       31 24  5  2 66 21 77 Lazio        31 18  6  7 75 40 60 Roma         31 18  6  7 50 26 60 Inter Milan  31 16 11  4 50 22 59 AC Milan     31 15  7  9 43 36 52 Fiorentina   31 14  8  9 44 33 50 Sampdoria    31 14  6 11 50 46 48 Atalanta     31 13  9  9 47 34 48 Torino       31 11 12  8 46 38 45 Bologna      31 10  5 16 35 43 35 Genoa        31  9  8 14 24 31 35 Udinese      31 10  3 18 39 48 33 Sassuolo     31  7  9 15 21 51 30 Chievo       31  7  8 16 29 51 29 Cagliari     31  8  5 18 28 51 29 SPAL         31  5 12 14 30 52 27 Crotone      31  7  6 18 29 56 27 Verona       31  7  4 20 26 62 25 Benevento    31  4  1 26 26 73 13
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